The person first historically documented to define themselves as a libertarian was French anarchist Joseph Déjacque, imprisoned during the French revolution for his dissidence, and later a campaigner for the abolition of slavery. For the greatest span of its existence as a qualifier, libertarianism has stood in its foundations for these anti-authoritarian and Enlightenment ideals, originating in the European continent in opposition to all forms of tyranny and suppression. They inspired in revolutionary wave to South and Central America, and of course the Thirteen Colonies, exemplified by the intellect of Jefferson and Franklin, or the English emigrant pamphleteer Paine.
Defined contritely by Oxford Dictionaries, a libertarian is “a person who advocates civil liberty. A person who believes in free will.” Libertarianism is essentially the foundation of a free and democratic civilization, defending individualism against all dehumanizing or coercive hierarchies of control. The foundation of democracy is the decentralized and intrinsically collective individual understanding of personal fulfillment, rather than uniformity of authority, subjugation or ignorance. In this respect it is inherently non-aligned and post-ideological, while being distinct from anarchism, and not precisely a mere antonym. In a governmental sense, libertarianism is minarchism, the belief that the only legitimate purpose of the state is to protect these inalienable rights: it should only be as large as it necessarily needs to be, as small as possible according to the will of the people as human beings in voluntary association, held accountable by their open communication. It would therefore not respect the patently absurd notion of corporate personhood.
As republican volunteer Victor Garciá described the anarcho-syndicalist and anti-fascist resistance movements of the Spanish Civil War, Libertarian Youth movements, while often dysfunctionally disparate, ”never failed to proclaim the orthodox position of all anarchists: war on the state, authority, privilege, religion, [and] right up to militarism”.
It is only since the middle of the past century that “libertarianism” has been homogenized by the intellectual dishonesty of those who are as “libertarian” as North Korea or the Congo are “Democratic Republics” of. It has become overwhelmingly politically monopolized to refer to nothing but belief in “free-market” state-monopoly capitalism, at worst by authoritarian fundamentalists without even any respect for the freedom of individuals from discrimination or violence of the state at all. The right of corporations to undermine their rights of workers, prohibiting voluntary unionisation; or the “libertarian” astroturfed Tea Party movement in the United States, demanding the central government's suppression of civil rights for non-Christians or gay and lesbian people according to their prejudices; or the “libertarians” in our own country campaigning online for the return of capital punishment. There are too many examples of this appallingly flagrant and mindless hypocrisy. We should be aggravated by it. And rather than conceding to the defeatism of those who refer to this demagoguery as “Libertarianism”, we must fight to refound and elaborate the legitimate meaning of the term.